Review Category : National News

Trapper’s rescue of alligator ends with a kiss

WPLG/ABC News(TAMARAC, Fla.) — A trapper in Florida sealed his rescue of an injured alligator with a kiss.

The 8-foot alligator was visibly injured and bleeding Sunday while resting on the median strip along a road in Tamarac, Florida, according to authorities.

“It appeared that maybe it was hit by a car, because it had some road rash from the nose up to its spine,” Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Will Medina told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV.

Enter a trapper whose job was to contain the reptile, an ordeal captured on cellphone video that lasted nine minutes.

Wrapping the gator’s mouth with duct tape, the trapper puckered up and delivered the reptile a kiss on its snout.

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New US Secret Service director to be named

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — ABC News has confirmed that the Trump administration has settled on a new appointment for U.S. Secret Service director.

Former Marine general and Acting Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Randolph “Tex” Alles is the pick for the position, law enforcement and government sources tell ABC News.

Selecting an outsider would be a big shift for the insular agency, which has long promoted its leaders through the ranks.

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Arkansas carries out first double execution in U.S. since 2000

iStock/supparsorn(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Arkansas has executed Marcel Williams, 52, just after 10:30 PM local time on Monday. His was the second execution of the night, making this the first double execution in the country since 2000.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker had halted Williams’ execution while his attorneys argued whether the night’s first execution had gone properly. Williams was sentenced to death for the 1994 rape and murder of 22-year-old Stacy Rae Errickson after kidnapping her at gunpoint from a gas station in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

The first executed inmate, Jack Jones, was declared dead at 7:20pm local time on Monday, at the state’s Cummins Unit. He was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of 34-year-old bookkeeper Mary Phillips in Bald Knob, Arkansas.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of a lethal injection drug expires. One inmate was put to death last week, though the first three executions were canceled because of court rulings.

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New Orleans is latest place in the South knocking down monuments to the Confederacy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — New Orleans has become the latest place in the South to take down monuments or symbols to the Confederacy.

Workers early Monday dismantled a 35-foot granite obelisk, the Liberty Place monument, which honored whites who tried to defeat a racially integrated government installed in New Orleans after the Civil War. The city will also remove three statues to Confederate military officers in coming days.

“We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu vowed.

New Orleans’ toppling of Confederate monuments is part of a trend that gained speed and momentum after a mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, when avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans in a bible-study session.

In the aftermath of the massacre, calls came from both Republicans and Democrats in South Carolina to take down a Confederate battle flag that flew atop the statehouse in Charleston.

South Carolina’s public grappling with symbols of its history sparked calls from activists and politicians around the country to take down Confederate flags and monuments in other places.

Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy and research organization focused on fighting bigotry and discrimination, published a survey in the wake of the Charleston shooting that found more than 1,503 symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces in the U.S., nearly all of them in the South.

The group asserted in its study that the symbols of the Confederacy can’t be separated from the ideology underlying the Southern states’ defense of slavery after the Civil War.

“There is no doubt among reputable historians that the Confederacy was established upon the premise of white supremacy and that the South fought the Civil War to preserve its slave labor,” the study states.

South Carolina took the Confederate battle flag down from its perch on the statehouse on July 10, 2015, little more than three weeks after the church killings.

Since then, Confederate flags have also been taken down at other locations including the Alabama statehouse, Oklahoma Baptist University and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Souvenir Confederate flags were also taken off the shelves at major retailers like Sears and Walmart and at small gift shops such as at the Civil War Museum of the Western Theater in Kentucky and at Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland.

Defenders of public displays of Confederate monuments and symbols say they are important markers of history.

Robert Bonner, a 63-year-old who participates in Civil War re-enactments, protested the removal of the Liberty Place monument in New Orleans, telling The Associated Press that the city’s decision to take it down was “terrible.”

“It’s a terrible thing,” Bonner said. “When you start removing the history of the city … you start losing where you came from and where you’ve been.”

Aware of opposition to removing the Liberty Place monument, the workers who took it down did so while it was still dark and wore both masks and bulletproof vests.

Some historians, echoing the view of the Southern Poverty Law Center, say many of the monuments to the Confederacy were put up less to commemorate history than to make a statement after the Civil War against any granting of full rights and political power to former slaves.

“Many of these statues were mounted in the 1890s and during the time of Jim Crow,” when laws enforcing racial separation took hold, said Matt Karp, associate professor of history at Princeton University and author of a book on the legacy of slavery.

“These were political [statements] and not meant to be viewed as neutral symbols” of history, Karp said.

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2 dead in apparent murder-suicide at Dallas office building, police say

WFAA-TV(DALLAS) — Two people are dead in what is believed to be a murder-suicide at an office building in Dallas, Texas, police said.

At approximately 10:45 a.m. local time, officers with the Dallas Police Department responded to reports of an active shooter at the office building in question, police said. There, officers found two deceased individuals, one male and one female, in a meeting room. The individuals have not yet been identified.

According to police, it is believed that the male shot the female and then killed himself. Police believe this is not a domestic violence incident and that the female victim was a supervisor killed by her subordinate.

This a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Lawyer: Doctor dragged from United flight planning legal action

ABC News(CHICAGO) — The doctor who was dragged off a United flight by Chicago Department of Aviation security officers earlier this month is preparing for legal action over the incident, his lawyer told ABC News.

When asked by ABC News’ Linsey Davis in an interview on Monday if Dr. Dao is planning legal action, attorney Thomas Demetrio said they are “getting ready.”

United told ABC News that it had offered passengers on the plane up to $800 to give up their seats for four crew members who needed to board. No one volunteered, so the airline generated a list of four names to be removed from the flight and re-accommodated, per by the airline’s contract of carriage. Three of those people complied, and one did not. That’s when the police were called to remove the man, later identified as Dao.

United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the incident and has vowed that the company will conduct a “thorough review” of the “truly horrific event.”

Dao is still receiving treatment after suffering injuries in the April 9 incident, according to his lawyer.

Demetrio added that he has received hundreds of emails from passengers about their experiences on flights after taking up the Kentucky doctor’s case.

Dao’s lawyer is also representing an American Airlines passenger who is at the center of another viral video posted to Facebook on Friday. The footage shows an intense confrontation between a flight attendant and at least two passengers after a woman tried to bring her double-wide stroller on board a plane.

The airline’s rules for passengers traveling with children say strollers should be checked at the gate.

American Airlines responded to the incident shortly after the video began to circulate online, announcing in a statement that the flight attendant had been put on leave while the incident was investigated and that the woman and her family were upgraded to first class for the remainder of their international trip.

“What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers,” American Airlines added in its statement. “We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident.”

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Ex-teacher who allegedly kidnapped teen planned to run to Mexico, prosecutors say

Siskiyou County Sheriff(YREKA, Calif.) — The former Tennessee teacher who authorities say kidnapped his 15-year-old student then allegedly spent over a month on the run with her had planned to flee to Mexico, federal prosecutors said.

Tad Cummins, 50, a married father and grandfather, went missing with 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas on March 13, authorities said. An Amber Alert was issued for Elizabeth, while Cummins was wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. The duo was found on April 20; the teen was “healthy and unharmed,” authorities said, and Cummins was taken into custody.

Cummins allegedly plotted their getaway from the moment he was suspected of having an improper relationship with the teen, according to a motion filed by federal prosecutors Monday supporting detention for Cummins.

“The logical inference is that the defendant … fled to avoid criminal charges,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Cummins planned to reach the Mexico border and then head to countries further south.

Cummins allegedly obtained a “small watercraft and conducted a test run to cross into Mexico across the water from San Diego,” prosecutors said. “The defendant also considered the feasibility of a land crossing into Mexico.”

Prosecutors claim that in an effort to evade capture, Cummins deliberately left a “misleading note with his wife regarding” which direction he was traveling. Cummins also allegedly altered his appearance, switched license plates twice, disabled the car’s GPS system and used aliases for himself and the teenager, prosecutors said.

Cummins and Elizabeth were found on April 20 at a remote cabin in northern California near the Oregon border after over a month on the run.

Cummins was arrested on a state warrant for aggravated kidnapping and he faces a federal charge of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He is expected to appear in federal court in Sacramento, California, Monday.

The teenager was found “healthy and unharmed,” authorities said. She has returned to Tennessee and is in a “safe location with family and friends where she is comfortable and resting,” said attorney Jason Whatley, who is representing the Thomas family.

Cummins, who was fired one day after the alleged kidnapping, had allegedly researched teen marriage online, specifically the age of consent, according to law enforcement officials.

One of Elizabeth’s schoolmates reported seeing her and Cummins kiss in his classroom on Jan. 23, according to a school district investigative report, but both denied the claim. A school report from January reads that neither one “admitted to behaving inappropriately towards the other.”

Elizabeth’s father, Anthony Thomas, told ABC News after Elizabeth was found, “She may not be exactly … the person she was because there’s a lot of experiences she’s had.”

“I’m not allowed to ask her about things that happened along the way right now,” he said.

Elizabeth’s father said the family is instead keeping “things positive.”

“I go in there and tell her how much I missed her, how much I love her and how much her dog missed her,” Anthony Thomas said.

“I think she has the determination to really go somewhere in life,” he said. “But right now she really needs a lot of help.”

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Video captures moment 4-year-old girl falls out the back of moving van

Ryan Ciampoli(HARRISON, Ark.) — Harrowing dash cam video captures the moment a 4-year-old girl fell out of the back of a moving church bus on a state highway in Arkansas.

The footage depicts the small child swinging out from the back door of a church bus on Highway 65 in Harrison, Arkansas, before falling off onto the street as the van briskly drives away.

“I saw it happening and it blew my mind, it’s like I wasn’t even seeing what I was seeing,” Ryan Ciampoli, a volunteer firefighter who witnessed the girl’s fall and called for help, told local ABC News affiliate KHBS-TV of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“Obviously, you want to leave her laying there, you know, if she’s not in danger, but we’re in the middle of a state highway so I couldn’t leave her just laying there,” Ciampoli added.

Ciampoli said that at first the girl was unconscious, but eventually the “shock kicked in” and she started crying and calling for her mother.

The family of the young girl in the video declined ABC News’ request for comment at this time, but told KHBS-TV that she broke her jaw in the fall and was hospitalized. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Tim Hampton, a pastor at the Christian Life Center Church, told ABC News that the church would not be using the bus again.

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Tennessee teen’s sister on kidnapping, ‘roller coaster’ of emotions

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Elizabeth Thomas’ older sister, Kat Bozeman, said her family has experienced a “roller coaster” of emotions since her sister was returned home on Friday.

“It’s a roller coaster. Some days are good you see her more, some days are bad you see her less,” Bozeman told ABC News affiliate WKRN-TV on Sunday. “So it’s a long, long road ahead of us.”

She said her sister is being treated at a mental health facility where she spends a lot of time with a therapist. Visitations at the facility are limited, she said.

Bozeman said she and her sister hadn’t spoken much about her “traumatic” time on the run with her former teacher, Tad Cummins, 50, who allegedly kidnapped her more than a month ago.

“She told us she didn’t have access to telephone, internet, any electronic devices. There was not availability to food all the time, is the understanding,” Bozeman said.

“Obviously, we are really trying not to press her, because it’s really traumatic for her to remember all of these things.”

Thomas and Cummins were found at a remote cabin in northern California near the Oregon border where he was captured Thursday, more than a month after the two disappeared in March.

The teen returned to Tennessee on Friday and is currently in a “safe location with family and friends where she is comfortable and resting,” said Jason Whatley, who is representing the Thomas family.

After Thomas was found, authorities said she was “healthy and unharmed.”

Thomas’ father, Anthony Thomas, told ABC News earlier that the experience has changed her.

“She may not be exactly … the person she was because there’s a lot of experiences she’s had,” he said.

Cummins is scheduled to make his first court appearance at 2 p.m. Monday in Sacramento, California.

He faces charges of aggravated kidnapping, sexual contact with a minor, and a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent of having criminal sexual intercourse, authorities said. That charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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US astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks American spaceflight record

NASA/Bill Ingalls(NEW YORK) — U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, 57, broke the record for the most cumulative time in space by an American astronaut early Monday, streaking past the 534-day record held by Jeff Williams.

The 879-day global record, held by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, still stands.

By the time she returns to Earth in September, Whitson will have spent 666 days in floating above the planet. She hopes she won’t hold the title for long.

At 1:27 a.m. ET on April 24, @AstroPeggy has officially broken @Astro_Jeff‘s record of 534 days in space. Wish her well with #CongratsPeggy! pic.twitter.com/ylZtOwt4lA

— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) April 24, 2017

“I’m not here because of the record,” Whitson told ABC News’ David Kerley via video teleconference from aboard the International Space Station earlier this month. “I’m definitely here for conducting the science.”

The research she’s doing is “a really important stepping stone” to sending astronauts on even longer missions to Mars — “the sooner the better,” Whitson hopes.

However, “we still have some critical questions to answer,” including the medical complications that come with living in zero gravity, like bone density and muscle constriction, she told Kerley.

“I think the biggest hurdle probably for the human body is going to be the radiation … and probably the easiest solution is to get there faster so that you take less risk along the way,” she said.

Whitson, an Iowa native, is no stranger to shattering records. In 2008, she became the first woman to command the ISS, and just last month — during her eighth spacewalk — Whitson surpassed NASA’s Sunita Williams for the woman with the most cumulative “extra-vehicular activity” time.

Her journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

During re-entry following her second mission in 2008, her Soyuz capsule experienced a technical glitch, sending it hurtling into a violent dive and exposing the crew to forces eight times more powerful than the earth’s gravity for more than a minute.

Nevertheless, her time in space is “one of those rides you hope never ends,” Whitson tweeted Sunday. “I am so grateful for all those who helped me on each of my missions.”

It is one of those rides that you hope never ends. I am so grateful for all those who helped me on each of my missions! #LifeInSpace pic.twitter.com/msjKSg6WWH

— Peggy Whitson (@AstroPeggy) April 23, 2017

President Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump are expected to call the ISS from the Oval Office to congratulate Whitson on her achievement Monday morning.

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